In a study from Penn State, scientists found a controlled and localized delivery of blood thinner may improve blood clot treatment.
Heparin has long been used as a blood thinner, or anticoagulant, for patients with blood clotting disorders or after surgery to prevent complications.
But the medication remains difficult to dose correctly, potentially leading to overdosing or underdosing.
In the study, the team combined heparin with a protein fragment, peptide, to slow down the release of the drug and convey the medication directly to the site of a clot.
They found when mixed, positively charged peptides and negatively charged heparin bind to create a nanogranular paste that can be injected under the skin, forming a cache of material that is then diffused in the circulatory system and travels to blood clots when they appear.
The turbulent flow of fluid near a blood clot triggers the two materials to separate, allowing heparin to begin its anticoagulating action.
Without an added bonding agent, heparin applies its anti-clotting properties indiscriminately, not just at blood clot sites, and clears quickly, its half-life is only 60 to 90 minutes.
Using preclinical animal trials, the researchers determined that the addition of peptide allows for a dramatic increase in heparin’s half-life, up to nearly 24 hours.
They suggest the peptide increases heparin’s effects by more than ten times longer than what is currently being used.
The increased half-life allows for sustained treatments for patients, less medication waste, and more accurate dosing.
Eventually, this could allow the medication to be injected under the skin just once a day, rather than an all-day IV drip.
Next, researchers plan to replicate the study in a clinical setting, as well as study the effect of the medication’s toxicity in the body if administered over multiple days.
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The study was conducted by Scott Medina et al and published in the journal Small.
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